ECAO-IBEW took centre stage at the Skills trades showcase and competition May 1-3 at the Toronto Congress Centre.
Not only did we give thousands of students a taste of the fun and challenge of electrical work, but IBEW apprentices won both Gold and Silver medals in the post-secondary electrical competitions. The ECAO-IBEW interactive booth also won first place in the Careers Exploration Showcase.
UPDATE June 2017: Andre Viau of IBEW Local 1687 won a (shared) Gold for electrical installations at Skills Canada. Unfortunately Canada cannot compete in Skills World until next year.
The Skills Canada and Skills Ontario programs are designed to show young people that the trades represent a rewarding career path. As part of that program, there are a series of provincial and national conventions and competitions every year. Dozens of trades are represented, from masonry, plumbing, and carpentry to automotive, culinary, and fashion.
For the past few years, the ECAO-IBEW has been sponsoring the electrical competitions for secondary and post-secondary levels, our interactive careers booth, and workshops for the elementary school students.
If you’ve never been to Skills, it’s really a sight that will make you proud to be an electrician. It was literally a massive “trade” show, with over 25,000 attendees.
Students from elementary and secondary schools attended, as well as members of government, private industry, education, media, and the general public. The air was full of excitement as curious students buzzed from booth to booth, eager to try out the many different activities.
Gold and Silver Medalists
One of the big highlights for us, of course, is the post-secondary electrical installation competition.
We’re thrilled to announce that this year the Gold medal was won by Andre Viau from IBEW Local 1687, and the Silver by Andrew Padre-Cura from IBEW Local 804. Interestingly, since 1998 about 70% of medal winners have been IBEW apprentices. This speaks not only to the talent that we attract, but the quality of training we provide.
Bill Daniels, IBEW International VP for the First District, enjoyed presenting the medals for all the construction trades. “It’s such a wonderful experience. You can feel the energy, the pride, and even the shock of making it to the podium.”
“The talent these future electricians displayed during the Skills Ontario competition is truly remarkable,” said Jeff Koller, ECAO’s Executive Director. “Their attention to detail, safety awareness, and precision with which they work is to be commended. On behalf of all of our members at ECAO I congratulate the medal winners and all of the competitors for their extraordinary work.”
“As a first time attendee at Skills Ontario I was extremely impressed with the talent and skill sets of all the participants. Helping out with the electrical competition made me appreciate even more the hard work and dedication these students put into their trade,” said Kevin Vallier, Manager of Communications with ECAO.
The next stop for our winners is the Skills Canada national competition in Winnipeg from May 31 to June 3. Perhaps they will even represent Canada and the IBEW at the World Skills competition in Abu Dhabi in October.
One thing is for sure – there is a strong tendency for Skills winners go on to take up leadership roles in their locals.
It’s a point of pride for us to create a spectacular booth every year, and 2017 was no exception.
This year, the ECAO-IBEW booth won first place in the Careers Exploration Showcase. It was extremely popular, and had a wide range of interactive activities for students, including wire joints, data interconnectivity, and security video links.
Thanks to All Who Made Skills Happen
Putting the electrical portion of the Skills show together is a huge project. It took a year of effort behind the scenes, plus days of setup work right before the show.
Volunteer Aaron Zboch-Alves of Local 353 explains some of the effort involved in setup. “Our multi-local team moves over 20 skids of material, builds the walls and sets up the presentation booth. After a long 48 hours, the competition space is ready to host students, competitors, and visitors.”
He continues, “After the workshops on the first day of the event, the team then flips everything over to competition mode. About 40 competitors arrive the next morning at 6 AM ready with tools in hand. After 8 hours of grueling pipe and wire work, the judging team, supported by the build team, take on the task of deciding the best for this year. Finally, after 14 intense hours of competition, the team wraps up and prepares for the tear down.”
There are many people who deserve thanks for making the ECAO-IBEW presence so spectacular this year. If we listed everyone by name, it would look like a movie credits roll.
Here are some highlights:
- First and foremost, all of the volunteers from IBEW Local 353, 804, and 105 who spent months preparing the booth, and getting supplies and tools ready for for the interactive challenges. Without you, we would not have had the stellar presence we had.
- The Skills Electrical Competition Committee members who design the competition space and plan a challenging project for Skills competitors to build, especially Jodi Hill of Local 353, who served as Skills Electrical Installation Tech Chair.
- Our sponsorship partners: the ESA and the CSA.
- Everyone who made the time to serve as a judge.
- Andrew Pereira, who took many of the photographs in this article.
Thank you for all of your time, energy, and creativity!
Looking Forward to 2018
Once the Skills committee and crew gets a chance to get some well-deserved rest, they will be meeting to plan next year’s interactive booth and the challenge for the competitors to build. If you’re interested in volunteering or competing, speak to your Business Manager.